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Using Book Postcards/Covers for Book Promotion

Patti Hathaway

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-- Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

I asked the publisher for 500 dust jacket covers. I include a copy in my presentation packet, illustrating that I'm an author without having to send the complete book. (I do send the book to "warmer" prospects.) Also, the publisher printed 1,000 regular size business cards, with one side showing the cover of the book and the publisher's 800#, and the other side giving my contact information. Additionally, I arranged for 500 post cards -- 4"x6" -- with one side showing the book cover and the publisher's number, and the address side offering my contact data. These items are very useful, and allow me to promote the book and my services with the same material.

-- Patricia Katz

I have done both. Had a lot of covers printed for the first book along with the postcards. Still have a big stack of covers and the postcards are long gone. For the 2nd and 3rd books brought out together, I went only with the postcards. There were 3"x6" in size and featured reductions of the covers of both books on the front along with a brief promo description of contents (about 50 words). The flip side was printed as an order form.

We didn't leave any room for mailing address as you would on a true postcard. I found with the first set that I didn't mail them directly just as a card anyway. I did include them in everything -- from business letters to promo packages to utility bill payments.

I also distributed a lot at conferences. I'd set them on every 2nd or 3rd chair or sprinkle 2-3 on a table (two face side up and one order form side up). They seemed to be more prized when there weren't 'enough' to go around. I often get orders post-event as a result of the cards.

When I fill book orders, I put another card in the parcel to encourage them to pass it along. Can't remember how many we had printed -- 3,000-5,000 runs in my mind.

Also...another great idea that Terri Lonier used -- had the cover image shrunk, laminated and attached a brooch pin to the back -- wore it on her suit lapel at conferences and other events. Great conversation piece. I did the same with WorkTips and HomeTips cover images from these book order cards.

-- Joanne Schlosser

I created postcards and then mailed one to everyone in my database. That generated a number of orders. Extras are used for ongoing promotion and also when someone (like Amazon.com) wants a copy of the book cover for promotional purposes. If you'd like I'd be happy to send you a postcard so you can see what I put on the back.

-- Mitchell Gooze, CSP

Both have their place. Used postcards to announce book signings etc. Used book covers for other, more limited in size, promotions.

-- Jim McCraigh

As a speaker and a part time partner in a printing business, I would suggest that you ask your graphics person/printer to run a couple (or more depending on space) of business or postcards on the same sheet as your book cover and cut them apart when the covers are trimmed. Be aware that with your contact info on the reverse of the cards you will have a two sided job, but it won't add much to the cost. With all the pieces on one set of negatives, you'll probably offset the cost of the second side anyway. My books are 7" x10" which allows me to get these cards out of a larger sheet.

A large part of your printing costs will be in prepress and set-up, so the more you can get on the page the better. I usually print 2000 covers at a time. That allows me some economies, but lets me change things later. 2000 will cost you only a little but more than 1000. 500 is a waste of $$$. I use on demand printing, and only bind a hundred or so at a time to save sapce and inventory costs. If you have any other questions feel free to ask via email.

-- Larry James

I have successfully self-published four books since 1992. I always ask the printer to print an extra 2500 book covers and use them for postcards and in my media kit. I also ask that there be "no charge" for the book cover overrun. 9 chances out of 10 they will not charge me for them. They come to me precut, ready to fold and send with my media kit or I can cut off the back and use it as a post card. I have a template set up so that I can run them through my printer to print a special message and the address. While you have to pay "first class" postage because they are oversize, I believe it is worth it. I also have postcards printed, however, I do not put my book cover on the postcards. I have my graphics guy (Jim Weems, Ad Graphics, NSA member) set up TWO four-color book marks on one postcard template. I usually order 5,000 postcards. When they arrive, I simply take them to a local "quick-print" shop and pay about $7.00 to have them cut down the middle. I end up with 10,000 four-color book marks. Such a deal!

-- Gordon Burgett

You do both (book cover overruns and postcards) for different reasons. I prefer the book cover overruns because they are cheap (usually under a dime apiece) for a full front/back item. You can then print the table of contents or even your bio on the inside, or whatever you wish. We use them all the time to respond to mail requests: just plunk the requested item inside the folded book cover, with a note on the outside. They cost a bit more since they go flat in bigger envelopes, but most of the rest of what we send goes flat anyway.

The postcards are okay but I've found much less use for them, since I don't have much that fits postcard size. And often the vital selling info on the back of the book isn't on the card. But folks far better at promotion than I can give you 100 reasons for postcards.

-- Leslie Charles, CSP

With our self-pub. books we ran extra covers to use in my promo pkgs. With the Customer Service Companion we did a post card but it's not just the cover shrunk -- we had our artist design the post card and promotional text at the bottom. It's always nice to have something extra to use and you'll find many uses for the post cards...

-- Noonie Fortin

The publisher who did my first 2 books tried both methods with about the same results. While the cards were a bit cheaper to make and mail -- they didn't produce any more sales. Meanwhile everytime you try to get a booksigning or speaking engagement -- almost every company asks for the covers to use for PR at their end and they never return those to you. Wouldn't it be nice if we all could afford publicists! Good Luck.

-- John Fuhrman

I use book covers as a large part of my book and speaking promotions. I use the full cover. When I send information to a client, radio station, or other media, I use a 6X9 envelope and fold the book cover so the front and spine are larger than the back. I put all the info inside by folding it in half and send it.

When they open it, they get the feeling of opening a book. Besides, books unfortunately, are judged by their covers and I've sold many books to clients this way. By having the backcover at full size they can read whatever material is on the back including endorsements and other benefits to buying and reading the book. I also include all my book covers in my media kits.

When I am doing an audience program where there are less than 200 attendees and I can get the outline down to one page, I print it on the back of the book cover. That way they are handling the cover for the entire program. I believe my BOR sales have increase directly because of this.

I use postcards to drive people to my web site where they can read more about the book and everything else I do. If you would like a copy of the postcard and one of the covers with a program on it, let me know and I'll send it right away.

-- Jeff Keller

I have gotten great results by using a color postcard to promote my book, and I HIGHLY recommend that you use color postcards as a promotion. A company called US Press in Georgia offers 5000 6 x 4 postcards for $395. If you are interested, just ask for Dan McIsaac (800-227-7377).

You can mail the postcards to those on your mailing list. More importantly, they are very easy to give out. Those people who love my book are more than willing to take a bunch of cards and to distribute them to others! When they do that, my total cost is less than 8 cents per card. Your clients will be happy to bring them to networking functions, trade association meetings, etc.

I have nothing against getting extra book covers printed. And if you can get some printed at little or no cost to you, then do it. However, gettting a postcard that has a short book description, contact information, etc. is much better than a cover. And I don't think people will give away your covers to others, but they WILL give out your color postcards.

The front of the card should be a color picture of your book. The back is black and white copy -- typically with blank space for mailing labels on the right. The only downside to these cards is that they don't fit in a standard #10 envelope. But it's a minor inconvenience.

The minimum order through US PRESS is 5000 -- I am already on my second order of 5000. You'll have no trouble using them.

-- Gloria Dunn

I actually did both. Because the price per extra book cover is so low, I had the Table of Contents of my book printed inside in black ink and use them to mail with my promotional packets or give away where appropriate. The postcards (which you can get from print houses who do multiple color runs from different clients at the same time) are also very reasonably priced. I use them to mail to book stores. In addition to having information about me and the book on the blank side, I print the ISBN and distributor numbers that bookstores want. I also hand them out at certain meetings.

-- Helen Wilkie

I didn't do postcards when I published my book, but instead printed 200 extra covers. I used about 100 of them as promos for the book (had them printed on the white side with pre-publication info). I had quite a few left over, and some time later I hit on the idea of using them as oversize postcards. I just slice off the front cover, throw away the back cover and spine. Then I draw a line down the middle of the white side, like a regular postcard, and use it the same way. I think it stands out even better than a regular postcard.

-- Kristin Anderson

We asked AMACOM books to overrun the covers for our books. The full size covers went through the mail just fine (we tested a few the first time) and were large enough to get attention. We used them for thank you notes, and other quick notes. Bookstores and associations used them to promote author appearances and seminars. It's easy to have the back side printed with information about the event.

The publisher did a small postcard showing all the books in the series. That's nice to include with information packets, but I liked the larger size for event announcements.

-- Dana May Casperson

I have a few book covers which the publisher provided (5), but I had 500 post cards made and have never used the covers except on a large display. I glue the post cards inside my presentation folders sent to prospective clients, in promo letters to prospective clients, and with a contact info sticker on the back as a giveaway at the table near brochures, etc. They can be printed later on the back with tips, etc., to your mailing list. Mine are on shiny photo paper, so I have printed (on one sheet adhesive paper) a message then stuck it on and sent.

-- Bob Perk

I had cover over runs made. I include them in all promo material. I've cut it in half and used it as a post card, too!

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